Wonder.

It’s been a little over three months since that dreadful morning my sister rushed into the room I was sleeping in upstairs at her house and told me my mom was dead—the how of it all too much to bear and sometimes too hurtful to speak outloud or type in black letters to stare back at me. 

I was at my sister’s house because I hadn’t visited my family in quite a while. Finally school was over, end of the year testing was complete, and Mack’s last football game of the season had just happened on Saturday. I drove to my sister’s house on Sunday, arriving in the afternoon. My mom had said about a week earlier that she wasn’t sure how she would be feeling and wasn’t sure she was up for a visit from me—which was totally unlike her. She cried when I told her I was going to stay with Marcy and that we could talk closer to time to see how she was feeling. She said she hated that she was not in a good place and couldn’t imagine us being so close but not seeing us. I reiterated with much kindness and understanding that the last thing I wanted to do was cause more anxiety. I told her I really wanted her to get better and keep withdrawing from the medicine. I understood that she wasn’t in a good place.  And though I knew she was withdrawing from a medicine, and I knew it was not pleasant, I had no idea the extent of her condition.

And even though she preferred I not come to her house, I felt like I needed to lay my eyes on her to see if I could help or encourage her in some way. I decided that I was going to sleep at Marcy’s house and then wake up and head to my parents house alone and without telling her since I didn’t want to overwhelm her with any thoughts about it beforehand. 

That visit never happened. I never got the chance to see her or hug her or encourage her.

I had a choice in the days following my mom’s death. I could be overwhelmed with thoughts like, “Why didn’t I get a chance to see my mom?”  “Why didn’t I just drive straight to her house Saturday?” “Why wouldn’t she have wanted to see me?” “Did she plan it this way?” I wondered if me being able to see her would have somehow changed this horrible outcome.

Or I could choose to rest in the fact that God is sovereign and good. He led me to my sister’s house to be there in the aftermath. I didn’t have a two and a half hour drive before me. I was with my sisters and dad right when I needed to be. God is trustworthy.

I would be lying if I said I didn’t have to hammer this out with God over the following weeks as grief was unfolding. But I can say I am resting in the truth of God’s goodness and sovereignty over the timing. 

God sees all and knows all. And I took some time this past week to go through the journal I was using from March through the date of my mom’s death. I was greatly encouraged to read the many ways God prepared me for this awful day in my life. 

I wrote about where we were in life at the beginning of the journal, as I always do with a new journal, on March 9, 2019:   “The kids got accepted to Carmel Christian School, and I will soon be wrapping up a decade of home schooling.” {Only God knew how bad this change at this time needed to happen. I am spent of energy and creativity that would be needed to home school! Thank you, Lord, for Your provision.} I ended with, “So here’s to filling another journal…ups and downs and everything in between. Thankful for the journey.”

“We have to maintain a venturing attitude toward Jesus all the time.” (from My Utmost)

March 11, 2019 after reading Psalm 16: “I am not afraid of what life may bring because of Your faithfulness.”

March 13, 2019 after a Jen Pollock Michel podcast: “Jesus doesn’t always anwer our questions.” Psalm 131. “The future is safely in God’s hand and sight. There is nothing to worry about.”

March 14, 2019 after reading Psalm 18 that proclaims the Lord is my strength and girds me with strength and trains my hands for battle SO THAT I can do hard things, I wrote, “Action in the future—I don’t know what that might mean, but I pray that You would be preparing me for what will come in the future.” 

And God did prepare me. Not by snapping His fingers. Not by pouring magic pixie dust on my head that morning. He prepared me by His grace and through His Word. And might I add that His Word doesn’t come into my mind by osmosis. I wake up earlier than my family just about every morning and open my Bible. I read His Word. I pray that He will shape me into the woman He wants me to be. It is a process and there is no perfection to be found in me, but I want to cooperate with God in the sanctification process and a HUGE part of it is listening to Him and obeying Him! 

March 21, 2019 I studied Psalm 23. “The Lord is my Shepherd” and G. Campbell Morgan says “When this is said, all is said.” And I can see how the Lord has guided me like a loving Shepherd. Guided me right to my sister’s house that evening knowing I would be walking through the valley of deep darkness. I can almost envision goodness and lovingkindness following my car all along the interstate from Charlotte, NC to Georgia. 

March 25, 2019 I read Psalm 26, “I have trusted in the Lord without wavering….my foot stands on a level place….” I prayed, “Lord, please give me an unwavering trust in You and Your ways! And plant my feet firmly on a level place.” G. Campbell Morgan says that “Prayer on the grounds of trusting God will ever guard the heart against panic.” Amen.

March 26, 2019 I read Psalm 28 and prayed more about God being my strength and girding me with His strength and making my hands strong for battle. I confessed that I needed His divine protection and closed the prayer with, “Thank You also for giving peace to me even while walking this earth that is not very peaceful.”

March 28, 2019. Psalm 31 “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord. I say, ‘YOU ARE MY GOD.’ My times are in Your hand.” {even May 20, 2019}

March 29, 2019. Psalm 32 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with My eye upon you.”

March 30, 2019 (my 42nd birthday) I wrote, “Lord Jesus, Thank you for so many years. There have been so many wonderful days, so many challenging days, so many boring days, so many sad days, floundering days, celebratory days, disappointing days—and you have never changed through any of those days. You are the faithful, trustworthy One. Thank you for forming me and shaping me and loving me perfectly. There is no other who has been who You are to me, and I am deeply grateful for Your love, Your understanding, Your longsuffering, Your sacrifice, Your pursuit, Your protection, Your mercy, grace and kindness. I don’t know where I would be if it weren’t for Your hand on my life. I love you, Jesus. You are my God, and I need You still every moment of every day.”

April 1, 2019. Psalm 34:18 “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” {Such a comfort to me.}

April 3, 2019. I was riveted by the thought of God holding my hand. Psalm 37 says “The Lord sustains the righteous….The steps of a man are established by the Lord. When he falls he will not be hurled headlong because the Lord is the One who holds his hand.” Wow. That verse would mean more and more to me in the days to come than I could have realized that morning.

April 8, 2019. Psalm 44. My prayer, “…and I know there will always be some sort of troubles, but You, God, will always be near.”

April 9, 2019. Psalm 46. “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. God is our refuge and strength, Abundantly available for help in tight places.” I filled in the blank of this sentence with some of my current concerns: Therefore, we will not fear though “I’m unsure of what the next season looks like.”

I read Elisabeth Elliot’s book on Suffering. She gives wisdom on how to deal with suffering of any kind: 1)Recognize it, 2)Accept it, 3)Offer it to God as a sacrifice. And she says, “Lord, deliver me from making a career out of my troubles.” Good, good word.

April 10, 2019. Psam 47 and 48. “Lord, I can find complete resource in You! Thank You for this truth!! There is not a day or a single second I have to be afraid of Your good and perfect rule and ability to provide all I need.”

April 12, 2019 “I pray for humility and kindness to mark my day. It didn’t mark yesterday.”

April 15, 2019. Psam 52-55 “Lord, I am reminded that You are always at work. You always see our circumstances perfectly. I need godly perspective and I am thankful that You have faithfully taught me that You are good and trustworthy.” 

April 16, 2019. Psalm 56. “This I know, that God is for me.”

April 19, 2019. Listening to a song by City Alight “Come and find your hope now in Jesus, He is all He said He would be. Grace is overflowing from the Savior’s heart, rest here in His wondrous peace.”

April 23, 2019. Psalm 61. “Lead me to the Rock that is higher than I for You have been a refuge for me, a tower of strength against the enemy.”

April 24, 2019. Psalm 62. God is the only sure thing, only solid ground. Lament—pour out your heart to Him.

April 25, 2019 in my prayer I wrote, “Your will is good and best and right. Some things I just need to be ok with not understanding.”

April 26, 2019. Psalm 65, “You have crowned the year with Your goodness and Your wagon tracks/paths drip with fatness.” I wrote, “ I have 5/2013, 2/2015, 6/2018, 11/2018, and 4/2019 written in the margin of this chapter of Psalms. Thank You, Lord, for helping me walk in the tracks You’ve given me, walking after You and Your ways and Your will for me…..Every date of my life has been under Your eye, under Your care….YOU CAN BE TRUSTED.”

April 27, 2019. Psalm 66. Verses 10-12 “Difficulties of life are real,” I wrote.

May 1, 2019. Psalm 107. I remembered a time about nine years ago that God used this chapter to speak so personally to me. “I have been stripped of many things and ideas and comforts and all for my good and Your glory, Lord. Keep searching and knowing me, Lord. I am desperate for You.”

May 5, 2019. Matthew 6. “Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”

May 6, 2019. Matthew 7. Build your life on Jesus alone! I prayed, “Father, I want to build my life on You alone. All other things—no matter how wonderful—will fail me, will pass, are temporary. Only You are worthy of my all….Help me think clearly, see clearly, hear clearly, and act on anything you say, Lord.”

May 8, 2019. Luke 9. “When things are good, we want it to stay that way forever, but God changes things up on us at times. Go with God.”  I wrote in my prayer, “Lord, I pray for my mom’s mind. She is in a dark place withdrawing from the medicine. Please help her through this. Your good, gracious will be done.”

May 10, 2019. Matthew 11. “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humbe in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  I was reminded by Jen Michel that this yoke is something to carry nonetheless. “Lord Jesus, I am weary and somewhat heavy-laden and I need rest. I want to learn from You—to be like You, gentle and humble in heart and find rest for my soul as I walk with You. With You as my leader, I pray I would experience the easy yoke and the light burden. On my own it is unbearable. Keep me in step with You.”

May 11, 2019. At the top of the page all alone are the words, “Should I schedule Diane?” Diane is my counselor I saw a few months after we moved here to Charlotte. She was a huge help and less than ten days before my mom died, this thought came to my mind. God was preparing me.

I read an article by Scott Hubbard about emotions. It was amazing. In my notes I wrote, “Occassionally ask the question, ‘What if God takes it away?’ The test is: Will we, as far as we know ourselves, resolve to bless the Lord rather than curse Him, even if the worst comes? Job 1:21, Lamentations 3:22-23, Philippians 1:21”

From Scott Hubbard’s article I also wrote, “For the sake of our souls, we must seek Him. No matter how long ago we heard His ‘Follow Me’ there is more of Christ to be had. More of His beauty to be seen. More of His wisdom to be admired. More of his power to be feared. More of His friendship to be enjoyed. More of His grace to be treasured. More of his comfort to be felt. More of His authority to be hailed. More of His worth to be confessed.” 

May 13, 2019. Listened to a song during my quiet time, “He Will Hold Me Fast.”

May 16, 2019. “I prayed for my mama when I woke up at 1am, 2am, and couldn’t sleep til 4am. I trust You with my mom.” Psalm 121. “I am resting in this psalm.” This is no small thing as I read the psalm again. It speaks of keeping my eyes on the Lord as my only Help. He never sleeps. He holds me steady. He keeps me. He protects me from all evil and the last verse speaks so much to my questions about why I was so close to my mom but didn’t get to see her, “The Lord will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.” He misses nothing. This timing was not a mistake on His part.

May 19, 2019. Matthew 18 and Luke 18. In a very emotional prayer I write, “In all circumstances, help me carry Your bag of seed with me and be assured there will be a harvest, there will be fruit—through tears and joy.” I added at the end as I prayed about my trip to see my mom and dad and sisters, “Help me unplug and hear from You on this trip.”

And He did allow me to hear from Him on that trip. I am in awe as I look back over just the three months leading up to my mom’s suicide at how God prepared me in a million ways through His Word and His Presence. I am sure I could go back to the many journals before and see more building blocks He laid. He makes us in our time with Him. There is no magic formula. Every morning isn’t sunshine and rainbows as I read my Bible, but as God holds my hand and teaches me and loves me and reminds me of Who He is to me and how He wants to work through me, I am being prepared. Without the foundation of Christ, what a mess May 20, 2019 would have been for me. Oh, it was a terribly horrific day—don’t hear me say it wasn’t that. But hear me say, time with The Lord isn’t just something to check off your list. It isn’t just something you need in a crisis. It is making you into the person God wants you to be. The crises will come. You don’t know when. I surely didn’t know what was about to happen in my life, but The Lord most certainly knew. And He made me ready with His strength and grace and truth. 

So now three months later I don’t wonder why I didn’t get to see my mom. I don’t spend my days wondering why she chose this timing and this way. Instead, I wonder in amazement that God was so good to prepare me little by little for days and days beforehand. I wonder in amazement that He had me so close to my sisters and dad. I wonder at the way He helped me make difficult decisions and phone calls just minutes after hearing the horrible news. I wonder in amazement at how Josh was able to come and be with me immediately because he had a light week of work, which is super rare.  I wonder in amazement at the help of so many during our dark time. I wonder at how God is using this situation to turn my kids’ hearts more towards His heart and purposes for their lives.

{From Suprised by Paradox, page 190, by Jen Michel}

“Maybe the mystery of suffering isn’t only that this world could be so fragile; maybe it’s also that God could be so close, bending His ear to the earth to let every grieving heart crawl inside and find rest. Not answers, but comfort. Not certainty, but trust. And perhaps this is enough to tide us over till the dawning of a new world when the heavy boots of death are sent straight to hell and everything fragile is made unbreakable again, where falling becomes rising and faith becomes sight. A world where wonder is finally made worship.”